Blue Jays: Decision on Chase Anderson’s option not so simple

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 17: Chase Anderson #22 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts while pitching during the second inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 17, 2020 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 17: Chase Anderson #22 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts while pitching during the second inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 17, 2020 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /
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The Blue Jays hold a 9.5 million dollar option to retain Chase Anderson for 2021, and while it’s possible they could pass, it’s not a clear-cut decision.

Even though the season just finished for the Blue Jays, I’m sure the front office is already hard at work on the 2021 campaign ahead.

Soon enough they’re going to have some decisions to make with their own roster. They have several pending free agents from their 2020 team, and they also have a pair of players with contract options for next season. Rafael Dolis1.5 salary for next year is about as no-brainer as it gets, and he’ll be retained. However, it’s not quite as clear for Chase Anderson and the 9.5 million he’ll be due if the Blue Jays choose to retain him.

Based on his production during his limited time as a Blue Jay, one would think they may be ready to pass on that option without much debate. In 10 appearances (seven starts), Anderson posted a 7.22 ERA and a 1.634 WHIP over 33.2 innings pitched, striking out 38 against 10 walks. I don’t feel like he was quite as bad as the numbers would indicate, but it was far from his best performance as a big leaguer, and guys with a 7+ ERA don’t usually keep their job, let alone get paid 9.5 million.

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That said, it’s hard to say how GM’s around the league will view this season compared to results from a full season under normal circumstances. If we’re talking about Anderson’s production from 2017-2019, he was quite good for the Milwaukee Brewers. He went 12-4 with a 2.74 ERA during his best season in 2017, and he was still solid in 2019 with a 8-4 record, a 4.21 ERA and a 1.266 WHIP over 27 starts and 139.0 innings.

That’s not premium production, but it’s good enough to earn an eight figure annual contract for a lot of starting pitchers these days. Look no further than Tanner Roark, who the Blue Jays inked to a two-year, 24 million dollar deal last winter. In a lot of ways you could consider Anderson and Roark in the same tier, with the latter having a longer track record of durability as maybe the only difference.

As far as the decision to retain Anderson goes, the Blue Jays have two choices to make. One, are they prepared to pay him 9.5 and have him as part of next year’s rotation? My guess is no, but with depth being so important, it’s not out of the realm of possibility. On the other hand, I think it’s possible the Blue Jays could entertain exercising the option, and then looking for a trade partner. They wouldn’t be able to get a huge return for the veteran, but something is better than nothing, and lottery tickets can pay off once in a while.

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At the end of the day, my expectation is that the Blue Jays will pass on Anderson’s option and buy him out for $500,000 since it’s a small cost. That said, I don’t think the decision is quite as easy as it may appear on the surface, and it wouldn’t shock me if they kept the asset rather than letting him walk.